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PhD is a waste of time

So the general consensus is "Don't get a PhD unless you want to become a professor."

Shocking.

I would add a bit. Don't get it unless you want to be a professor, or you want to change the system (which will be easier if you become a professor). Majority of the PhDs today in the sciences are slaves, and mostly international students who are greatly manipulated by their supervisors. FYI, I am a PhD holder.
 
A PhD is often required to get into the industry but if you want to get into finance with a PhD in physics is not a great idea.

People with no knowledge of finance should try to get into High Frequency Trading where machine learning and signal processing is more useful and you dont' need to knwo finance at all.

IMHO, many PhDs at the moment are being replaced by Financial Engineers and it seems that in the future becoming a doctor will be more related to academia than to practical life.http://www.hypervolatility.com
 
I think the thread is too critical on PhD. I wanted to pursue a PhD about 5 years ago. The reasons why I haven't were personal, nothing to do with a prospective job/money.

First of all it's a personal choice. Doing a PhD for a job is not a good idea. However continuing some research during Masters and getting useful results can be exciting. You may love the research, you may like the academic freedom.
During PhD, you have years to develop on a niche subject. It's an opportunity you won't have for the rest of your life unless you are in academia.

Therefore whenever someone would ask me about PhD, I would ask back:
1. Do you love the research?
2. How do you feel about doing it for another 4 years?
3. Do you want to be in the place of your advisor in 10 years?
 
3. Do you want to be in the place of your advisor in 10 years?

The odds are aginst it. That's why it's referred to as a giant Ponzi or pyramid scheme. As Steve Sailer describes it:

The Harvard professors' graduate students become the UCLA professors whose graduate students become the Cal State LA professors whose students become the schoolteachers who browbeat their more gullible pupils into believing that everybody should go to college, no matter how obvious a waste of money and time it will turn out to be.

If you're a super-duper intellectual gymnast, go for the PhD. Otherwise you're just grist to the mill, fodder for a self-serving academic system that is churning out way too many PhDs, and indifferent to what they're going to subsequently do with their lives. And PhD students do fret anxiously about what they're going to do when (or if) they complete their doctorates. It's seldom a case of research for its own sake. The academic experience Derman describes in his book, My Life as a Quant, is typical -- and he was going to one of the better schools.</SPAN>
 
The odds are aginst it. That's why it's referred to as a giant Ponzi or pyramid scheme. As Steve Sailer describes it:



If you're a super-duper intellectual gymnast, go for the PhD. Otherwise you're just grist to the mill, fodder for a self-serving academic system that is churning out way too many PhDs, and indifferent to what they're going to subsequently do with their lives. And PhD students do fret anxiously about what they're going to do when (or if) they complete their doctorates. It's seldom a case of research for its own sake. The academic experience Derman describes in his book, My Life as a Quant, is typical -- and he was going to one of the better schools.</SPAN>

That is stupid. Any sensible person cannot take that seriously. (Harvard...to UCLA...to Cal State...to etc). Are you serious? There are endless examples to show otherwise. That is not even a "norm" for that to be a valid case. Take PhD in Finance or Economics from any top 10 school based on PhD Research in Finance/Economics and see their graduates placement.

I do understand that comparison in some situations. Okay, it does not work when your advisor is Eugene Fama. His students have not made it as world renowned economists. A good number of his students are just CEO's and top executives at the largest hedge funds in the world (AQR, DFA, etc).
 
That is stupid. Any sensible person cannot take that seriously. (Harvard...to UCLA...to Cal State...to etc). Are you serious? There are endless examples to show otherwise.

No, there are not. I'm talking of math and physics.The absolute cream of the Harvard-Princeton-Berkeley crowd find jobs at similar institutions. The others drift downwards to second- and third-tier universities. And this is inevitable given the overproduction of PhDs. Even teaching colleges and universities have begun to insist on research publications -- though it's utterly irrelevant to what they do. Once in a blue moon a PhD from a second-tier school wins a tenure-track position at a first-tier school -- usually because of absolutely stellar work. But this is an anomaly. But go ahead -- live in your dream world. I'm not stopping you.
 
No, there are not. I'm talking of math and physics.The absolute cream of the Harvard-Princeton-Berkeley crowd find jobs at similar institutions. The others drift downwards to second- and third-tier universities. And this is inevitable given the overproduction of PhDs. Even teaching colleges and universities have begun to insist on research publications -- though it's utterly irrelevant to what they do. Once in a blue moon a PhD from a second-tier school wins a tenure-track position at a first-tier school -- usually because of absolutely stellar work. But this is an anomaly. But go ahead -- live in your dream world. I'm not stopping you.

You might want to specify what you're talking about next time without making generalized statements.
 
I think that a lot of people who are posting on this thread are very misinformed. If they had any idea at all of the positions and salaries which the PhDs from the Business School were getting, they would realize just how ridiculous their statements criticzing the PhDs are.
 
You might want to specify what you're talking about next time without making generalized statements.

On the contrary, if you go back to the original post and link, it's about PhDs in general. In general there is a glut, as the Economist article makes clear. It's you who are talking specifically about finance/business PhDs, for whom at the present time there appear to be job openings. Read before you criticise.
 
Hey guys. Seeing a lot of tension in this tread. Let's all be against PhD rather than being against each other!!!
I do think that majority of science and eng PhD degrees are a waste of time.
 
So really ... PhD in math NOT the path to quantitative analyst

After reading this thread, I thought that this is the most opportune time for me to interject. If the PhD is a waste of time and if Masters is the way to go ... does that mean I can eradicate all stories about all those math whizs flocking to Wall Street to use their intellect to solve problems in trading?

I personally have not experience what a PhD program is like. Still, I do admire all those Math, CompSci PhDs conceptualizing all those money making methods in trading. Scott Peterson's The Quants are littered with examples. The notion of this thread is starting to make me believe that such abstract knowledge is no longer relevant in today's quant world. If that's the case, maybe contemplating a thesis on differential geometry 'just to show' the interviewing committee that I'm smart enough for trading isn't worth my time.
 
If the PhD is a waste of time and if Masters is the way to go ... does that mean I can eradicate all stories about all those math whizs flocking to Wall Street to use their intellect to solve problems in trading?

The notion of this thread is starting to make me believe that such abstract knowledge is no longer relevant in today's quant world. If that's the case, maybe contemplating a thesis on differential geometry 'just to show' the interviewing committee that I'm smart enough for trading isn't worth my time.

I think Dominic mentions somewhere on this forum that his outfit (P&D) maintans a database of 1,000 PhDs (presumably looking for quant employment). Math and physics PhDs started drifting years ago towards finance mostly because of scant academic opportunities. These people are presumably competing with MFEs, who have a more relevant training.

Riemannian geometry is probably not the way to go today for a job in finance. Something more targeted -- numerical analysis, statistics, finance -- may be the way to go. A PhD is a heavy investment in time.
 
I think Dominic mentions somewhere on this forum that his outfit (P&D) maintans a database of 1,000 PhDs (presumably looking for quant employment). Math and physics PhDs started drifting years ago towards finance mostly because of scant academic opportunities. These people are presumably competing with MFEs, who have a more relevant training.

Riemannian geometry is probably not the way to go today for a job in finance. Something more targeted -- numerical analysis, statistics, finance -- may be the way to go. A PhD is a heavy investment in time.

Exactly ... but it still begs the question: How should the aspiring quant go abouts his preparation in quantitative trading. Do a one year MFE or MSc or do a four year thesis in Numerical Analysis and / or Stochastic Calculus. If everything in this thread points towards MFE to have more relevant skills, that seems to negate the value in creating an original theory in Probability theory. Put differently, research in such relevant math disciplines - Stochastic Calculus, Measure Theory, Numerical Analysis - should stay in the academic realms and not be augmented in some way to 'fit' what traders need.

As for the other parts of this thread ... I do seem to get the history behind such Math and Physics PhDs. Correct me: They gradate with their thesis, hope to find some job opportunities, failed to do so, and in a stroke of bewilderment, found out all their field theories, real analysis, PDEs, can be applied to finance.
 
As for the other parts of this thread ... I do seem to get the history behind such Math and Physics PhDs. Correct me: They gradate with their thesis, hope to find some job opportunities, failed to do so, and in a stroke of bewilderment, found out all their field theories, real analysis, PDEs, can be applied to finance.

I'd suggest reading books like Derman's My Life as a Quant and MacKenzie's An Engine, Not a Camera to understand how finance became mathematised, how physicists and mathematicians started applying tools and methods learnt in the exact sciences to finance. Another book I'd recommend for an even broader understanding is Mirowski's Machine Dreams: Economics Becomes a Cyborg Science, which explores how economics, computing, and mathematics became synthesised in the hands of von Neumann, Dantzig, Koopmans, Arrow, Samuelson, and Wiener (among others). This is the broad conceptual framework which, with its assumptions, forms the bedrock on which quant finance ultimately rests.

The travails of math and physics PhDs are nothing new, of course. My history may be a bit hazy, but I think 1970 was roughly the year when it started to become difficult for physics PhDs to find appropriate jobs (someone may correct me). It's only got worse over the last four decades (I think). I see an essay in today's dissidentvoice along these lines:

During the last years of the Carter Administration I was unable to find any physics and engineering college teaching job that actually paid (e.g., Proposition 13 had erupted in California, initiating the collapse of public education there, and by example leading the national trend), and even corporate work was not so easy to find, so to nuclear bombs I went. I had been shopping around my new Princeton University Ph.D. in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering (a sort of “rocket scientist”).
 
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